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‘My coping strategies are causing problems’

Our coping strategies help us to deal with emotional hurt, pain, and fear. However, these strategies are established at various times throughout our life. Perhaps even when we were younger and didn’t have the complex developed mind – or resources – of an adult.


When it comes to problems in adulthood, our brain seeks to be helpful, attempting to safeguard us by quickly and automatically applying the same old learning. Except these strategies can be outdated and unproductive in our professional life and relationships.


Common unhelpful coping strategies include:


  • Distancing yourself from bad feelings and living in a world of detached logic instead. Relationships get emptier and emptier, and you eventually feel out of touch with yourself. Or those close to you feel out of touch with you.


  • Trying to numb or control your feelings and anxieties through a myriad of addictions, self-medication, food (this could be over-eating or under-eating) or even scrolling through endless newsfeeds on your phone. None of these deal with the issue though. They simply affect your health, sleep, and wellness.


  • Turning your feelings outward onto others, and going into ‘fight’ mode. You get resentful, angry and critical. This inevitably makes people back away and you begin to feel isolated.


  • Turning your bad feelings inwards and harshly judging, pushing or criticizing yourself – sometimes in a misguided attempt to keep yourself motivated and on your toes. But this self-criticism is eroding your self-confidence, self-esteem, and sense of efficacy.


  • Losing your self-assertion. You’re scared of losing or angering others and so don’t stand up for yourself. At a gut level, it feels more important to please the other person. But meanwhile, in the background, you feel weak and resentment builds up. It’s not pretty when the resentment eventually bubbles up and comes out one way or another. Or the feelings get turned inwards and you end up depressed.

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